The Over 50’s Employment GAP

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Employers are failing to identify and tackle potential age bias in their recruitment process, with most employers not seeing it as a ‘problem’ in their organization. We have observed negative views of older people, such as older workers ‘having poor IT skills’ or looking ‘worn-out.’ Older workers made redundant in the months ahead risk being shut out of employment.

For example, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has reported that unemployment among over 50s has risen , that more than 400,000 over 50s could be made redundant when the furlough scheme ends. Research in the UK reported , 57% of people ,over 50 who have looked but not applied for a new job feel they would be at a disadvantage in applying for a job because of their age, and a third of over 50s believe they have been turned down to a job due to their age.

In my long experience in Thailand & South East Asia markets, senior staff and manager over 50 who lose their jobs are significantly more likely to suffer long-term unemployment than other age groups. Often, highly skilled workers in their 50s and 60s suffer from age discrimination in the recruitment process, often being told they are ‘overqualified’ – a concept that simply doesn’t make sense.

Over-50s faced different struggles getting back into work from younger workers, including age bias in the recruitment process and the prevalence of ageist views in HR & Hiring managers. These issues mean older workers are more likely to remain unemployed in the long term and could fall out of the workforce for good.

Job descriptions that use ageist language, not collecting age-related data, or using this kind of data to inform decision-making, an emphasis on the ‘cultural fit’ of candidates, unstructured interviews and ageist stereotyping are all disadvantage older workers in the recruitment process.

With many over 50s facing redundancy as a result of the pandemic, and this group likely to struggle more than any other to find re-employment, tackling ageism in the recruitment process is vital to preventing a generation of older workers from falling out of the workforce permanently.

The labour market is changing rapidly. The average age of today’s workforce is rising too. In many Asian markets, with falling birth rates, one third of workers are now aged over 50 and this is set to increase rapidly in the years to come. And yet many employers are missing out on the experience and skills of older workers because they face age-bias in the hiring process.

It’s in the interests of both employers and the Asian economies, to ensure older workers are not overlooked in the recruitment process. To make sure older workers are considered on their merits rather than written off, businesses need to rethink their recruitment process and adapt to more inclusive recruitment techniques. They will miss out on a wealth of talent and experience if they don’t do so.

Recruitment trends that have been accelerated by COVID-19, such as remote hiring, must not be used to allow employers to discriminate on the basis of age. As employers start to hire again as the economy picks up, it is vital they attract an age diverse workforce to benefit from the skills and experience older workers have to offer.

Are you over 50 and looking for a job?

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